BISTI BADLANDS

DAY 1

We have far too many pictures to post in this blog, so I will just try to give you an impression of what the area is like.

On our first day we went to a small isolated site at the western end of Ah Shi Sle Pah also called Valley of Dreams. To reach the Bisti Access Parking Area, Drive NM 371 just under 36 miles south of Farmington (from the San Juan River crossing) or just under 45 miles north of Crownpoint (from the intersection of 371 and Navajo Service Route 9), and turn east on Road 7297 (a gravel road). Drive Road 7297 for approximately 2 miles to a T-intersection and turn left. Drive just under one mile to the Bisti Access Parking Area, which is just south of a broad wash on the east side of the road. You can access this area with your travel trailer or RV and camp there. There are no facilities.

We chose to hire a guide for our two days at Bisti Badlands. That was Kialo Winters from Navajo Tours USA. (https://navajotoursusa.com/)

Here is Kialo.

Hoodoos

Hoodoos are geological features formed over many centuries through a combination of physical and chemical weathering forces. This includes erosion through wind and acid rain, but the most powerful process that helps sculpt these formations is frost wedging. Hoodoos are also known as fairy chimneys, earth pyramids and Tent rocks.

The National Park Service explains, “in the winter, melting snow, in the form of water, seeps into the cracks and freezes at night. When water freezes it expands by almost 10 percent, bit by bit prying open cracks, making them ever wider, in the same way a pothole forms in a paved road.”

Flying Wings

The Flying Wings are Hoodoos that look like stealth bombers. The “King of Wings” is the largest of these.

Petrified Wood

Petrified wood is a fossil. It forms when plant material is buried by sediment and protected from decay due to oxygen and organisms. Then, groundwater rich in dissolved solids flows through the sediment, replacing the original plant material with silica, calcite, pyrite, or another inorganic material such as opal.

Graupel

The word graupel is Germanic in origin; it is the diminutive of Graupe, meaning “pearl barley.” According to etymologists, there does seem to be a grain of truth in the assumption that the word grew from the Slavic word krupa, which has the same meaning. Graupel was first seen in an 1889 weather report and has been whirling around in the meteorology field ever since to describe “pellets of snow” or “soft hail.”

We both drive through and hiked through graupel. It was kind of a cool – literally and figuratively.

Egg Hatchery

There is a grouping of formations in Bisti called “The Egg Hatchery” or “Egg Farm.” The area looks like thre had been some giant walking through who dropped a couple of cartons of eggs. If you let your imagination go, you can also see some of the eggs hatching.

DAY 2

The second day of our exploration of Bisti Badlands took place on Navajo Nation land. It would have been very difficult for us to find the sites we saw if not for our Navajo Guide, Kialo. Suffice to say, you need 4-wheel drive to get to places to park, not because of any deep sand, but because you need the clearance 4-wheel drive provides.

Here is our guide, Kialo, making sure we don’t get into trouble.

Alien Throne

I suspect this particular hoodoo was given the name “Alien Throne” because it reminds people of the alien spaceship in the first Alien movie. It is freaky, that’s for sure. There are other, smaller alien thrones located in the badlands as well, but the one below is the most famous.

Another, Smaller Alien Throne

Alien Face

This was one rock formation that intrigued me. It looked like the face of an alien, perhaps the one that sat on the throne.

Natural Bridge

Another interesting rock formation, perhaps caused by heavy water flow some time in the distant past.

Moonscape

There are many whitewashed areas that remind me of photos I have seen of the moon surface. Every time you turn around, the view changes in the Bisti Badlands.

Petrified Wood

Petrified wood is all over the badlands. In some instances, the logs are fragmenting. From what I have read, it is ice that forms in the cracks, expands and, ultimately, causes the log to fragment.

Giant Mushrooms

There are hoodoos in Bisti that are very tall and that are referred to as “giant mushrooms.” Here we are standing under one.

Wild Carrots

The wild carrot is sometimes called wafer parsnip. The scientific name used to be Cymopterus bulbosa, but the “wise” folk decided it is different enough to have its own name—Cymopterus constancei. This name is derived from the Greek word for “wings.” In this plant the wings are on the seed pods and are quite dramatic. It has a cousin, Cymopteris fendleri, that is call ‘chimaja’ in Spanish and whose leaves make a tangy addition to a fresh spring salad.

Anyway, Kialo dug one up and showed it to us. The root looked like a short, fat carrot. After he peeled away the skin, we ate it. It tasted a bit like carrot but, Kialo told us, is better used in a broth. This is another benefit of having a native guide!

In Closing…

As I said, there are too many pictures to include in my blog post. The only way to experience the Bisti Badlands is to go there. To make sure you understand what it is that you are seeing, and that you see all there is to see, take a guide. from Navajo Tours USA. (https://navajotoursusa.com/)

If you need any more convincing, please visit this website ( NatGeo Travel’s article #13 of ‘Best Trips 2019’): https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/features/best-trips-2019/

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